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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

24 February 2015

IDEX 2015: Affordable Recon and Surveillance Platforms

Where aircraft are expensive to operate and drone fleet operational challenges remain, airships and aerostats can deliver rapid and persistent elevated situational awareness and actionable intelligence with great manpower and cost efficiency. Aerostats, kite-like aerodynamic helium-filled balloons that fly in the wind without pilots, or tethered lighter-than-air (LTA) platforms, are likely to shoulder an increasingly vital security role in border, harbour and port security missions alongside their more mobile brethren, the airship or blimp. Why? While drones also offer many exciting opportunities in BHP security enhancement, they often present regulatory, safety, reliability, payload limitation and/or network operation cost issues. Fortunately, the lighter payloads developed for drone integration now empower midsize and tactical aerostats to cluster cameras and sensors to quietly transmit valuable intelligence data more efficiently and cost-effectively, especially amid vigilant BHP monitoring scenarios.

Aerostats in Border, Harbour and Port Security

The benefits Aeros’ aerostats present to defensive base protection and area observation outside the continental US are similar to border, harbour and port security scenarios where observation, identification, communication, documentation and interdiction support ensure needed levels of safety and security. Readers are likely aware aerostats now monitor the skies of DC, and a network of eight watch the US southern border supporting over-the-horizon target identification. Aeros manufactures four current Aerostat production models, ranging in size and payload accommodation from 9-300 Kg, but also supports larger mission-specific solutions to extend the eyes and ears of patrol and security personnel with elevated sensor and real-time surveillance systems. Payload technologies can provide surface surveillance at long range with priority tracking, beacon detection, navigation including ground mapping and weather, target imaging and classification, moving target detection (GMTI – air-to-air MTI) and much more.

Aerostats provide cost-effective C4ISR support like a low-flying satellite system but cheaper to launch and operate, lending situational awareness to other air and ground support personnel, and are ideal when rapid deployment and persistent monitoring for days, weeks, months or years may be required. Visibility can also provide area deterrence to would be immigrants or aggressors, augmenting physical barriers in domestic security applications or alter soft-target perceptions. All Aeros’ models combine persistent surveillance and rapid redeployment capability, easy field operation, and low manpower/maintenance requirements delivering a cost-effective solution for real-time EO/IR imaging or radar with extended LOS.

Airships provide a highly mobile, flexible, quiet and stable elevated sensor platform with slow-loiter and extended time-on-station capabilities. Aeros’ 40D and 40E SKY DRAGON airships support C4ISR mission success and efficiency with multi-payload mounting systems, as well as flexibility to cover more ground with less manpower requirements in diverse onshore/offshore monitoring scenarios like threat identification and documentation, anti-terrorism, smuggling interdiction, loss prevention, etc. Airships can accommodate wide payload flexibility to support electro-optics, thermal imaging, electronic intelligence, surveillance radar, and/or INS technologies, among others. Airships also support border security command and control, communications relays, and can speed ground-based operations in border, harbour and port security application. Aeros’ airships integrate the latest design and technology to deliver 24-hour imaging or monitoring capability with extended range, 360 degree field of view, as well as HD downlink and remote camera operations.
Aeros also makes a number of ground-based security solutions for border, harbor and port security applications:

Aeros’ Ground Based Border Security Solutions

Tactical Towers (TT) - towers provide ultra rapid, persistent and localized mission support to border applications, and were inspired by the Aeroscraft’s lightweight and strong structural truss structure also made of carbon fiber. The TT is an ultra lightweight and cost-effective ISR system that allows a single operator to establish a surveillance zone for area monitoring in 30 minutes. Modular, scalable, and portable, towers facilitate consistent surveillance by tactical payloads from elevated vantage points with minimal effort and training, for virtually as long as necessary. Segments collapse for simplified mobility, and can be assembled on site without tools.

EWS (early warning system) – Aeros’ EWS incorporates a comprehensive suite of sensors to provide maximum situational awareness across a wide area. EWS is designed for long range surface surveillance and priority tracking, target imaging/classification (ISAR), navigation and weather detection, beacon detection, ground mapping (spot & strip SAR), moving target detection (GMTI), transponder (SART), etc. Empowered by moving map software, the EWS integrates information from radar, the EO/IR surveillance camera and other sensors like gunfire detection and communications relays to provide total command and control over a wider area.
Andre Forkert

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